Vilanch drops hair for ‘Hairspray’

GOOD MORNING: The role of Edna Turnblad in the national touring company of “Hairspray” will be played by — Bruce Vilanch. He will make a personal sacrifice to play the role. He’ll part with a close friend of 32 years — his signature beard. He bows Sept. 9 in Baltimore, the hometown of John Waters, on whose film the B’way tuner starring Harvey Fierstein is based. Vilanch and Fierstein are “old pals.” Vilanch originally grew his beard after being forced to have a three-day growth of beard co-starring in the movie “Rocco in Chicago” with Marcello Mastroianni and Lauren Hutton. “I just got tired of shaving,” Vilanch sez. The unveiling will take place around July 27 as he readies “to get in character” for the role. Thus he’ll be seen as usual around Oscar time — he’s a member of the impressive armada of writers working with producer Gil Cates and inimitable host Steve Martin . . . Vilanch is no stranger to the stage, having worked in summer stock with Talullah Bankhead, and more recently in his one-man show Off B’way, “Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous.” Plus “Bruce: A Month of Mondays” on the BevHills boards. And no, he will not part with his moptop coiffure, since he’ll be wigged for the role. “If every woman in Hollywood can do it, why not?” he asks as he readies for Edna.

. . .AND TALKING ABOUT OSCAR: In addition to the parade of presenters, nominees and recent winners, invites are out to winners of the halcyon days of Hollywood to appear on this 75th, diamond-anniversary show. Among those accepting — and winging from France — is Olivia de Havilland (“To Each His Own” in ’46 and “The Heiress” in ’49) . . . Judy Garland singing “Down With Love” and Frank Sinatra on “Fly Me to the Moon” are two of the period tunes to be heard in “Down With Love,” starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”) also have written “Here’s to Love” to be sung by the co-stars over the closing credits. Producers Dan Jinx and Bruce Cohen follow “Love” with another early-Hollywood-set story, “Silent Star,” a true story. Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) directs for DreamWorks . . . “Tonight may be Stacey Snider’s biggest night ever — at least since the opening of ‘8 Mile,'” the American Jewish Committee’s honorable national president Bruce Ramer said, lightening the proceedings of the otherwise serious evening. Universal Pictures’ Snider was honored with the AJC’s Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Human Relations Award at the Beverly Wilshire. Ramer added, “Stacey is no ‘Grinch,’ she does her job, her family involvement, and her community efforts are for ‘The Love of the Game.’ She is ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ and works hard every day and when she finally gets home, her two young kids say, first, ‘Mummy,’ then, ‘Mummy Returns.’ ” He got in five credits — with laughs to match. The heavy drama was left to keynote speaker ambassador Richard Holbrooke to warn, “Within eight to 10 weeks we’ll be at war.” His book “To End a War” will be HBO’d. Barry Diller made the award presentation to Stacey, who pledged to continue her community and civic efforts . . . Sidney Poitier makes the presentation to Billy Friedkin at Thursday’s Friends of Sheba Medical Center awards gala at the BevHilton. Lionel Richie headlines the entertainment.

THE GYPSY AWARD TO ANGELA LANSBURY by the Professional Dancers Society will be accepted for her Sunday at the BevHilton by longtime friend (and “Mame” co-star) Bea Arthur. Angela is grieving the loss of husband Peter Shaw, for whom a memorial celebration is being held that same day at 1:45 p.m. at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, Angela suggests donations to the Neuropathy Society. She tells me she will return to work. “That’s what Peter would want. “But,” she added, “it will take some time” . . . The Dancers Society also will pay special tribute to Betty Grable, with June Haver hosting the seg boasting a video by Lee Hale . . . Other sadness in the showbiz community as Gene Barry says goodbye to Betty, his wife of 58 years, at Hillside Memorial Park at noon Wednesday. They met as young actors “making the rounds” on B’way . . . On the happier side of the news: Wayne Brady and wife Mandie welcomed their first child, daughter Maile Masako Brady, Monday in L.A. . . . Maureen O’Hara is putting her colorful life on paper for Simon & Schuster. It’s “‘Tis Herself” . . . SHARE celebrates its 50th anniversary May 17 with a booming Boomtown celebration at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The ladies launched their charitable organization a half-century ago with a party at — Ciro’s. I remember it well — I was there . . . The 1964 Rolls Silver Cloud III that Jack Lemmon gave wife Felicia on their first Christmas has been donated by her to be auctioned Friday at the Frank Sinatra Celeb Golf Tourney at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells. Suzanne Somers hosts the tourney (Friday and Saturday) with Barbara Sinatra, benefiting Sinatra’s Children’s Center at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage . . . Castle Hill Films has acquired and will release “Jersey Guy” by first-time director Elia Zois, who co-wrote the film with his screenwriter father, Christ Zois. They’re prepping their second film together, “A Spy Story.”

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